Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has taken his first lead in a poll of a key nominating state.
A new Monmouth University poll published Monday had Cruz surging ahead of Donald Trump in Iowa, the first nominating state that can play a key role in launching insurgent presidential campaigns.
Among likely Republican voters in the state, Cruz garnered 24% support to Trump’s 19% support. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) had 17% support in the poll, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who briefly surged ahead of Trump in the fall, is now down to 13%.
“This marks the first time Ted Cruz has held a lead in any of the crucial early states. As Ben Carson’s stock has fallen, Cruz has been able to corral most of those voters,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, wrote in a press release.
Murray pointed to Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) recent Cruz endorsement as something that could be helping the senator’s numbers.
“Congressman King’s endorsement may not be the primary reason for this swing, but it certainly put a stamp on the Cruz surge in Iowa,” the pollster added.
Other Republican candidates appear to be increasingly wary of Cruz as he’s steadily climbed in state and national polls.
Rubio has repeatedly criticised Cruz over his support for the USA Freedom Act, which curbed the National Security Agency’s telephone metadata surveillance program exposed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
“I stand strongly on behalf on the ability of this government to gather intelligence on our adversaries and our enemies,” Rubio told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren last week. “Those keep us safer. And there are Republicans — including Sen. Cruz — that have voted to weaken those programs. That’s just part of the record. It’s nothing personal.”
Though Cruz has promised not to attack his fellow Republican candidates during the campaign, he hasn’t shied away from the fight with Rubio, charging that the Florida senator is nervous about Cruz’s rise in the polls.
“I think the reason that Rubio’s allies have resorted to false attack ads is they are very, very nervous about our surge in the polls, about the fact that conservatives are uniting behind our campaign,” Cruz told radio host Hugh Hewitt last week.
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